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Live: F1 Japanese GP commentary and updates - FP3 & Qualifying

Follow along for minute-by-minute updates for FP3 and qualifying ahead of Formula 1's Japanese Grand Prix.

Live: F1 Japanese GP commentary and updates - FP3 & Qualifying

A week after Singapore, Suzuka also returns to the calendar following a three-year absence, where Max Verstappen can claim a second F1 world title if he is 112 points clear of second place in the standings at the chequered flag.

Sergio Perez won last time out at Singapore, after a faultless drive helped him stave off the intermittent threats of Charles Leclerc.

Suzuka's last race was held in 2019, and was won by Valtteri Bottas - who beat Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to victory.

By: Jake Boxall-Legge, Haydn Cobb

Summary

  • Verstappen takes pole in F1 Japanese GP qualifying, but under investigation for blocking Norris
  • Leclerc second from Sainz, Perez and Ocon
  • Eliminated in Q1: Albon, Gasly, Magnussen, Stroll, Latifi
  • Eliminated in Q2: Ricciardo, Bottas, Tsunoda, Zhou, Schumacher

Leaderboard

  1. Verstappen, Red Bull
  2. Leclerc, Ferrari
  3. Sainz, Ferrari
  4. Perez, Red Bull
  5. Ocon, Alpine
  6. Hamilton, Mercedes
  7. Alonso, Alpine
  8. Russell, Mercedes
  9. Vettel, Aston Martin
  10. Norris, McLaren
Status: Stopped
For this live coverage of Japanese GP qualifying it is time to say goodbye. On the live front, we'll be back bright and early tomorrow for the race build-up, with the race starting at 6am BST (2pm local time). Until then, have a lovely Saturday. Go well!
It is time to digest that F1 qualifying session and dig into the details of the Verstappen and Norris incident. Will the Red Bull driver keep hold of pole? We'll bring you the latest news, views and outcome of the stewards hearing.
Verstappen is due to see the stewards at 5pm local time - which is just under 45 minutes away.
Here's a recap on everything that happened over the last hour and a bit. Also known as the Japanese GP qualifying report: 

https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/f1-japanese-gp-qualifying-report-verstappen-pole-investigation-norris-block/10381295/
But will Verstappen be able to keep hold of his pole position following his near-miss with Norris? That's for the stewards to decide. Going on recent events, we probably won't know for a few hours.
That was a mighty tight qualifying with just 0.057s splitting the top three in Q3. Just how we like it.
Leclerc, who missed out on pole by 0.010s, remains optimistic for the race: "The feeling was good with the car, but let's see what happens with the conditions as there might be some rain in the race."

Verstappen on Q3 incident with Norris: "I was driving quite slow, I wanted to accelerate but my tyres were quite cold so I had a big moment. Then Lando was trying to pass me at the same time so he had to avoid me, but luckily nothing happened."

Ocon leads the Alpine charge to take fifth place ahead of Hamilton in sixth, with Alonso taking seventh ahead of Russell. After his one and done run, Vettel is ninth in front of Norris who had a hectic Q3.
Verstappen didn't improve on his final Q3 lap, running wide at Turn 2 and losing a piece of bodywork, but it mattered little as nobody could beat his earlier lap time. Leclerc joins him on the front row ahead of Sainz and Perez.
Sainz and Perez also improve but not by enough, which means Verstappen takes pole position for the Japanese GP! But it remains provisional as he is due to visit the stewards.
Leclerc puts in a 1m29.314s which isn't enough so no pole position for him this afternoon. What can the rest do?
So, Verstappen holds provisional pole from Leclerc, Sainz and Perez. Can they fight back on the final lap?
Vettel, currently in sixth, gives a tribute to Suzuka calling it "a track better than all the rest" as he waves to the fans. That's his only set of fresh soft tyres left so he's done for the day, as the rest prepare for their final Q3 runs.
To no surprise that incident involving Norris and Verstappen will be investigated after qualifying.
The Norris and Verstappen near-miss looked to be triggered by how each car needs to prepare its tyres differently, as the Red Bulls are going much slower on their out-laps compared to the rest.
Woah! Verstappen could be in trouble! Norris, winding up for his timed lap, has to take to the grass as Verstappen darts left while preparing for his own lap. That might be one for the stewards to sort out.
Verstappen takes provisional pole off Leclerc with a 1m29.304s - 0.253s quicker than his Ferrari rival.
Purple sectors times - which means fastest of anyone - everywhere you look at the timing screen on the first Q3 runs. This could be frantic.
Right, Q3 time. Both Red Bulls out early doors joined by both Ferraris and Alpine's Ocon.
 
We said the margin to make Q3 would be tight, Ricciardo missed out by just 0.003s against Vettel. So close.
Out in Q2: P11 Ricciardo, P12 Bottas, P13 Tsunoda, P14 Zhou, P15 Schumacher.
Tsunoda and Schumacher appear to almost trip over each other on their out-laps, the German overtaking at pit exit and then they almost clash on the back straight later on. It matters little with both drivers out in Q2.
Vettel does hold on to a top 10 spot! Ricciardo fails to improve on his final Q2 lap and drops out in 11th.
Perez goes fastest of all with a 1m29.925s, but both Alfa Romeos are out in Q2.
Vettel leaps from 12th to fifth so he looks a strong bet for Q3. The rest are on their final laps.
All the drivers are on the track for the last Q2 efforts apart from Verstappen and both Ferraris who are confident of their Q3 spots.
F1's data gurus predict a 1m30.7s lap is needed to make Q3. Alonso, in seventh, has a best effort of 1m30.701s with Perez and Russell exactly 0.001s off him having set identical lap times. It's going to be tight.
Ricciardo, fifth, is leading Norris, 11th, in the battle of the McLaren team-mates, while in this action lull a quick well done to Schumacher who has already outqualified Magnussen - a good recovery from his practice crash.
The first runs are completed so the bottom five in Q2 is: Norris, Vettel, Zhou, Schumacher and Tsunoda.
Verstappen goes fastest again with a 1m30.346s, ahead of Sainz, Leclerc, Ocon and Ricciardo.
All 15 drivers contesting Q2 are on track with 10 minutes of the session to go. Lap times-a-coming.
Sainz's used softs lap is a 1m30.444s which is slower than he went in Q1, but put that down to tyre life rather than the sunshine.
"Looks like the sun is out, so could be a slower track," Sainz reports. He's right, the big bright yellow thing in the sky is saying hello for the first time this weekend.
Right, on with Q2. Sainz and Leclerc have gone out early on used softs.

Latifi had been carrying a five-place grid drop into this weekend for his crash with Zhou in Singapore. But it means nothing, as he qualified last anyway.

Out in Q1: P16 Albon, P17 Gasly, P18 Magnussen, P19 Stroll, P20 Latifi.
Albon is the last across the line but his 1m31.311s means he misses out on pushing Vettel out in Q1 by 0.055s. But disaster for Gasly who is out, locking up again due to his brake issue.
Latifi lifts himself out of the drop zone, and then so does Vettel and Zhou so it is all change as the chequered flag comes out.